Literally Speaking In Quentin Tarantino's Film Pulp Fiction

3008 words - 12 pages

Literally Speaking in Quentin Tarantino's film Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino’s film, Pulp Fiction, uses words to the fullest of their meanings. Words in the film amplify meaning through their duplicity. Characters call one another names wherein the names’ meanings enhance our understanding of what the character is saying. Even if the author or speaker does not consciously intend the meaning, the language that this paper analyzes contains meaning of psychological importance. Characters’ actual names in the film are also of particular significanc e. Nearly every character’s name reflects his personality or role in the film. Because people are human and integrating a name and personality is difficult, it is only genius for every name to be significant and meaningful. Yet, it may be surprising ho w well thought out the naming of the characters is. Pulp Fiction also touches on the interpretive value of words. Oftentimes, a person or group of people may understand the same definition of a word but interpret it differently. Language is prim arily a means of communicating ideas. The film makes an interesting point of how the actual words used may be irrelevant to the idea being portrayed. In sum, Pulp Fiction demonstrates how the meaning of speech can depend either on the choice of w ords used or on the prescribed reaction to word’s usage.

Name calling in Pulp Fiction demonstrates how the perception of a word’s meaning alters mood. In the restaurant, Ringo tries to assert his superiority by calling the waitress "Garçon," the French word for boy. He would have felt like a p owerful player in the game of life by exercising a liberal breadth of knowledge if it had been the correct word. However, his command for coffee backfires on him when the waitress diminutively informs him of his erroneous usage. The same power of langua ge with which he intended to dominate the waitress puts him in his place. The change in perceived meaning of the word and the ensuing change in expected reaction made him feel foolish. Rightly, discovering that he had used the wrong word was not an este em-shattering blow to Ringo, but it illustrates how the perceived meaning of a word and the ideas it means transmit forecast the expected reaction. The association carried by a name may either amplify or inhibit a character’s emotional state. Jules call s the young man ‘Ringo’ in the restaurant superficially because of his English accent. Strategically, Jules identifies the young man with a broadly admired celebrity to establish fraternity and to calm him. By calling the young man ‘Ringo,’ Jules superi mposes the admiration that Ringo Starr receives upon the young man. Obviously, Jules did not go through this elaborate thought process when he chose to use that name. If you were to imagine Jules instead using any other British name (e.g. George III, Ch aucer, or John Major) primarily because of the young man’s accent, you would see a significantly different reaction. Soon...

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